Melbourne Cricket Ground breaks its own top mark for concurrent Wi-Fi connections

Melbourne Cricket Ground. Credit: MCG

Melbourne Cricket Ground. Credit: MCG

Fans at a recent Australian Football League game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground set a new record for concurrent connections to the venue’s Wi-Fi network, with 16,500 fans able to connect at the same time. According to venue officials, the new internal record was set during the AFL Qualifying Final between Geelong Cats and Hawthorn on Sept. 9 at the 100,000-seat plus arena.

Previously, the Wi-Fi network from Cisco, IBM and other partners had seen a concurrent connection top mark of just under 10,000 connections at MCG, according to stadium representatives. The stadium has approximately 800 Wi-Fi APs, as well as a DAS deployment from Telstra for enhanced cellular connectivity. Though many U.S. stadiums have seen much higher concurrent-user totals, the new MCG record is believed to be the highest recorded in Australia, according to club officials.

The Melbourne Cricket Club had promoted the idea of trying to break the Wi-Fi connectivity record, with a promotion that offered a chance at winning free tickets to an upcoming Guns N’ Roses concert for fans who participated.

melb2According to the team, the Wi-Fi network has seen more than 150,000 unique connections since its installation late last year, part of a $40 million tech upgrade that also saw new scoreboards, LED signage, televison screens and the DAS installed in the venue.

“We significantly bettered the MCG’s previous record for the most concurrent Wi-Fi connections, with approximately 16,500 fans able to connect at the same time,” said Rey Sumaru, general manager for IT and innovation at the Melbourne Cricket Club in an email reply. “We are confident that this is the highest number of concurrent Wi-Fi users achieved in Australia, and the figure represents roughly 20 percent of the total match attendance.

“We are certainly pleased with this outcome and have gained some valuable insights and learnings about the Wi-Fi system as a result of this load testing,” Sumaru continued. “We will now be working with our technology partners Cisco and IBM to improve even further, to ensure fans have experience world-class connectivity every time they visit the ’G.”

Are you Watching this Weekend’s Arena Football Playoffs?

The Arena Football League playoffs start this week with some returning powerhouses and new up-and-comers as the league continues to make a nice recovery after being left for dead a few years back when it ceased operations.

I have a number of friends that deride the league as bush league but in the few games I have attended I really enjoyed myself. It features very high scoring and continuous action. The short field and odd rules really make it a great viewing spectacle, especially in person where it is an inexpensive yet fun time.

For the first round of playoffs, which will see games played on July 27 and 28 there will be eight games, two apiece in each conference. In the National Conference the San Antonio Talons, founded this year, against the Utah Blades in one set while the other will feature the Arizona Rattlers against the San Jose SaberCats, one of the oldest established teams in the league.

Over on the American Conference side the first week matchups will include the Philadelphia Soul against the New Orleans VooDoo and in the other match there will be the Jacksonville Sharks against the Georgia Force.

The winners from both conferences will meet the following weekend for the conference championships and the week after that is the Avitae ArenaBowl XXV to be held in New Orleans with a 10:30 pm ET kickoff. So New Orleans could have a home field advantage if it manages to win out. Some games will be broadcast on the NFL Network while others will be available online at

Just for those that do not know, the AFL was founded in 1987 and played until the economic downturn of 2007 forced it to dissolve. It was reformed in 2010 and has been playing since with 17 teams in two conferences of two divisions each. The season is 20 weeks long with two bye weeks.

What makes it interesting to me is the field. It is 85 feet wide, 50 yards long and has a 3-yard end zone. Eight players per team and they have four downs to move the ball at least 10 yards. Scoring is a bit wide open with six points for a touchdown with one point for a conversion by place kick, two points for a conversion by drop kick and two points for successful run or pass after a touchdown.

Three points for a field goal by placement or four points for a field goal by drop kick. Missed kicks can be returned by the opposition and a safety is two points. Interesting note is that the AFL is the second longest running football league in the United States, after of course the National Football League.